Tanjung Aru's Third Beach closed for public safety, says management firm

Workers cleaning up the Prince Philip Park in Tanjung Aru Beach which is under the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED).

KOTA KINABALU: Poor sea water quality and security concerns are the main reasons a section of Sabah's iconic Tanjung Aru beach was closed.

There has been growing public pressure to reopen the Third Beach, popular for family picnics and camping, which local civic groups claimed has turned into a wasteland.

Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said it decided to block the Third Beach entrance to discourage people from swimming in the area due to poor water quality.

He said TAED was told by its environmental assessment consultant that it was not advisable for people to swim in the area.

ALSO READ: Let public use Tanjung Aru beach instead of closing it, says civic group

Furthermore, he said the Tanjung Aru police had also advised the company that a closure of the area would help control illicit activities "as the place is pitch-black at night."

The TAED statement on Wednesday (May 24) came amid questions about the lack of progress in redeveloping the iconic beachfront after being mooted in 2016, and the imposition of parking charges on motorists heading to Second Beach and Prince Philip Park.

“Despite the closure to vehicles, visitors can still access the Third Beach from First Beach and Second Beach, so what’s the fuss?

"However, some irresponsible people are entering the area illegally by cutting through barricades and indiscriminately dumping garbage all over the park," Pandikar said in the statement.

Pandikar said although Third Beach was restricted, public access to Second Beach had been allowed since Nov 21, 2021.

Visitors were also allowed to park by the roadside for free if they did not want to use the parking area which is about 10m from the beach, he added.

He said Kota Kinabalu City Hall turned over the responsibility of managing the cleanliness and general upkeep of the public parks to TAED on Jan 1 last year.

ALSO READ: Human faeces found near Tanjung Aru beachfront, claims management

The company used collections from parking and rentals for the upkeep costs, he added.

"No fewer than 30 full-time general workers have been hired to maintain the upkeep of the park including grass-cutting, collecting rubbish, basic landscaping, beach and drain cleaning.

"There are also parking attendants and 24-hour security who also assist in controlling traffic during peak hours at the roundabout," he said.

He said scheduled maintenance work and cleaning activities were carried from 7am to 4pm daily without fail with extra focus on popular public spots within Prince Philip Park, the beachfront and hawker centre.

“The RM2 parking charge per entry is fully used for upkeep and upgrading the public park. In fact, the management is in the process of installing and upgrading the water supply and also repairing streetlights in Prince Philip Park that have been neglected and vandalised over the years," he added.

“It is now a common practice all over the world that some form of charges are levied on visitors to public and national parks. For example, a visitor to Mt Kinabalu National Park or Poring Hot Spring has to pay RM10 per entry and RM5 for parking.

ALSO READ: Sabah's iconic Tanjung Aru turning into a wasteland, say beachgoers

"TAED is only charging parking fees, and the collection is not for profit but for upkeep and maintenance of the Tanjung Aru public park.

"Is it too much to ask visitors to pay for parking? Nobody complains about paying parking fees when they go to a shopping mall, where they actually spend money,” Pandikar said.

He gave an assurance that efforts were ongoing to restore a lively and vibrant atmosphere to Tanjung Aru beach which has been a popular choice for relaxation and recreation as well as to watch the stunning sunsets.

"We also plan to open campsites which will include centralised barbeque areas, basic kitchen facilities, washing and dining areas for campers, targeted to commence in July next year,” Pandikar added.

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